Federal Politics

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Base stations a long-term concern

SCIENCE minister Barry Jones and foreign affairs minister Bill Hayden pushed cabinet to recognise Australia's long-term interest in Antarctica.

On July 16, 1984, they argued for money to be spent on airstrips and infrastructure.

They warned any diminution of Australia's presence - such as closing one of the three Australian stations, giving up the best port sites on the continent or sharing facilities - would advantage the Soviet Union. ''A reduced presence would over time lead to a decline in Australia's influence in Antarctica matters, as has happened to Belgium and Norway,'' they said.

At the time, Malaysia had called on the United Nations to declare Antarctica ''common heritage of mankind''.

The Department of Finance argued against the ministers' requests for more money for Antarctica.